Delve Into The Art of Statue Collecting!
The Collector’s Corner
Spotlight On: Statue Collecting
Featured Collector: Rickey Price
I started collecting Marvel comic books in 1970. Comics were only 15 cents then and as a ten year old I was able to collect every title Marvel published. In the early 90’s, Toy Biz began producing Marvel action figures and I jumped right in. They had lines of figures for The X-Men, Iron Man, Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. The prices averaged $4.99-$6.99 and KB Toys was a great place to get discounted figures. By the time the new millennium came prices for comics had sky rocketed and I began dropping titles left and right. Then the “Big Events” happened where Marvel tried to extort their readers into buying all of their titles to follow a single story. Finally I had enough and quit collecting comics altogether. Action figures became difficult to complete sets with the lesser produced figures. People were getting jobs at Toys R Us just to grab them up and make a profit.
It’s very hard to give up a life long hobby. I still had a deep connection and love for these characters. One of my most loved characters was The Man-Thing. And so it was I bought my first statue, a bust of the Man-Thing by Bowen Designs. Shortly after came busts of two more top favorites, Vision and the Scarlet Witch. From there I turned to E-Bay to try to grab busts below retail price. And Lo! a new hobby was born! At first I told myself I would only collect The Avengers as they had always been my favorite from Day One. I branched out to full size statues with my purchase of The Black Knight. Did I say “only collect Avengers”? Pshaw, how silly of me! I soon had a “collection-within-a-collection” of Thor who had been a fave since I first saw his cartoon in 1966 and would go outside throwing my mom’s hammer around like I was the Thunder God himself! And, as anyone who has read The Avengers in the last decade knows, everyone in the Marvel Universe has joined the team by now.
Bowen Designs produced their statues in 1/6 th scale….meaning 12 inches roughly equaled a 6 foot tall hero. Although there were some other companies producing statues, Bowen Designs became the gold standard of statues. Bowen Designs was not a huge company. It was created and run by Randy Bowen who also sculpted many of the statues along with a hand picked group of the best sculptors in the business. Randy also did something almost unheard of…he maintained a close relationship with his fans often turning to them for ideas and what characters they wanted to see done. I once asked him a question on the Statue Marvels site and got a reply.
Bowen Designs had a Collector’s Club where, for $25 a year, you could get 20% off and have access to statues produced exclusively for Club members. The annual fee paid for itself usually with the purchase of just one statue. Bowen Designs kept their prices very reasonable, too. As an artist, Randy Bowen was a perfectionist, creating sculptures with painstaking detail. You knew he loved his work and he loved the characters. Bowen Designs produced almost exclusively Marvel statues and my favorite thing of all was Randy loved to produce the lesser known Marvel heroes and villains. Heroes like Sting Ray, Captain Britain, Hellcat, Thunderbird, Red Wolf, Beta Ray Bill, Son of Satan, and Jocasta (the bride of Ultron). The villains were not left out either…there were the classic Spider-Man villains as well as M.O.D.O.K., Crimson Dynamo, Gladiator, Mojo, Juggernaut, the Enchantress and the Executioner. And of course there were numerous versions of the Big Guys like Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine.
When the Marvel films came out Bowen stuck with the classic comic book versions of the characters, producing just a handful of movie inspired looks. Sadly, Bowen Designs closed shop in 2013 but the statues remain some of the most sought after pieces in the industry…some fetching over $1000.00 on E-Bay.
Sideshow Collectibles got in the game with larger 1/4 scale statues. My first Sideshow statue was the same character my collecting began with: The Man-Thing. The full size Man-Thing comiquette (fancy name for statue) had light up eyes and set me back $499, cheap compared to what Sideshow is charging for their products now. But it was a good investment as the price now averages $1900 on the resell market. Sideshow began offering what they called Premium Format Figures…quarter scale statues that would sometimes feature cloth costumes or capes. Sideshow would also often sell an “Exclusive” version of a statue that would include a swap-out part ie: Captain America had a masked head and a Steve Rogers unmasked head, one Thor statue had a switch out arm–one holding Mjolnir and one holding a sword. Sometimes you get an art print. Exclusives have a much more limited production run, typically 250-350 statues and are the most prized among collectors.
(size comparison: Vision, Ultron and Scarlet Witch Sideshow Exclusives with Bowen Designs Ant Man and The Wasp “shrinking versions”)
My Exclusive Ultron Premium Format Figure (above) which came with an art print and originally cost $350 now fetches $1800-$2000 on E-Bay. A while back Sideshow started offering payment plans. Since their products go up for pre-order as much as a year in advance you can make installment payments so that you don’t have to pay a huge lump sum when you order or when it comes in. Then when it’s ready to ship to you it’s already paid for.
Perhaps seeing the prices of their products on the secondary market and wanting a cut, Sideshow has been quickly raising their prices so that now their Premium Format Figures start at about $500-$550 up. Last year they offered a beautiful Thanos On Throne statue for $1200! Despite the hefty price tag, it sold out in ten minutes!
A couple of fairly new companies–XM Studios and Prime One Studios–have hit the market lately with some very beautiful statues that will set you back $1000-$1500 new. As nice as the statues are, that’s just something I’m not going to pay till I win the Lotto!
Statue collecting has allowed me to hold onto my heroes exactly as I remembered them…free from bothersome story lines or being watered down by Hollywood. And there are ways for new collectors to come on board without being rich. Diamond Distributing (Previews Magazine) has been putting out toys for years and even a few statues in the past. They have a new line called Marvel Gallery PVC Figures (DC too) and are putting out some very impressive PVC figures (retail $45 but you can buy them at on-line retailers for $39). Their Dr Strange figure is particularly cool. They’ve done Iron Heart, Red Hulk, Spider-Woman and have a whole line from the Netflix shows: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage, Elektra, and many others.
Stepping up to the polystone realm the Collector’s Gallery Statues have Venom, Moon Knight, Spider-Man, Cable, Rogue, Psylocke, DC and more at $150 retail, $135 at on-line shops. Iron Studios is doing groups of 1/10th scale figures from Thor, Black Panther, and Guardians of The Galaxy that run $99-$115 on-line. Many of these guys can still be purchased or pre-ordered.
It was always frustrating to me when I collected the action figures; if I opened them up their value would be destroyed. With the statues you can open them up and display them and if you get tired of one or all you can just pack it back up in the box and store them or sell them. Which opens up two frustrating issues about statues: You need to have display cases to show them off, keep the dust off and protect them from accidents and you need to keep those boxes they came in if you want to keep their value up or even if you’re just going to move. That can call for a lot of space. But what the hey…if your collection gets too big, just move to a bigger house! As George Carlin once said a house is just a place to keep your stuff in!